Instead of writing a formal and (somewhat!) neutral match report on this game, I’ve decided I’m going to switch up the format for this particular piece. For this wasn’t just any match. This wasn’t just any defeat. In fact, this wasn’t even just any Merseyside derby defeat. This is a defeat for which the feeling I had afterwards was the most embarrassed I have ever been as an Evertonian.
When the draw was made back in early December, I was absolutely livid. It was a carbon copy of the third round from literally two years ago, on the same date and everything. I won’t believe anyone who tries to tell me it isn’t rigged. But I was incensed that we were going to have to suffer another gut-wrenching defeat to them, just over a month after the previous one, not to mention the fact it meant that our FA Cup journey was almost certainly over before it had even begun.
Until the day before the match, that was still how I felt. Not confident at all, why would I be? They haven’t lost a game in a year and Fabian Delph is more likely to grow his hair back before we ever win at Anfield again. But then the news leaked that Klopp was planning on resting the first team boys for the match and was going to field the youngsters as he had done in the Carabao Cup against Aston Villa in December.
And I let it happen. I let the belief wash over me like the naive Evertonian I am. Because as humiliating as it was that Klopp viewed this historic fixture as insignificantly as that, it was by far the best chance we were gonna have of breaking this humiliating Anfield hoodoo. I didn’t foresee what it would actually entail, that it would actually lead to the most embarrassing Anfield defeat of the lot…
For the opening period of the game, it seemed inconceivable that we could possibly lose this time. We were breaking their defence down with ease. If there had been more clinical finishing on show, we could have been 3-0 up by half-time but Calvert-Lewin, Holgate and Richarlison’s chances were all straight at the goalie. But we were still well on top, we were creating chances, testing the goalie. Even Theo Walcott had the best half of football I’ve ever seen him have for us. This time was surely different right? Right?
Well not exactly. In the second half, we seemed under the illusion that we had converted all three of those golden opportunities and were sitting behind the ball, letting their youngsters have complete control of the game. It was just unbelievable. Not a single one of our players looked bothered and it was inevitable they were going to score soon enough which they did on 71 minutes through a beauty from 18 year old Curtis Jones who was allowed more space than you’d give a boa constrictor that’s somehow escaped its enclosure at the zoo.
It was just an absolutely spineless performance. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Morgan Schneiderlin, two players on six figure weekly wages, were completely dominated in midfield and couldn’t have looked less bothered about it if they tried. Walcott was back to normal, looking clueless and breaking down any sort of half-hearted attack we had with a stray pass before he was hooked on 79 minutes. And then 10 minutes of the least urgent search for an equaliser I’ve ever seen later and it was over.
I can’t remember the last time an Everton game left me feeling so angry. Well actually I can but I won’t go into it in case it makes Heung-Min Son cry again. But even after that Spurs game in early November, it had been a different type of anger. That time, I had been furious at an injustice against our team. This time around, I was furious at our team. I felt more let down by an Everton side than I think I have ever done. To lose in that fashion to a usual Liverpool side would have been demeaning enough. The fact it was against their kids is nothing short of disgraceful.
And it does beg the question, if we couldn’t beat them in those circumstances, will we ever? I’m not just talking about the Anfield curse from 1999 anymore. I’m talking in general. This year marks 10 years since we have won against them home or away. It’s definitely not going to be this year we end that record. And they only seem to be getting better and better while we continue to stagnate as we have done constantly since the league success all the way back in 1987. Even back in 2012 and 2013 when we were finishing ahead them, we still couldn’t beat them at Goodison or Anfield, although we did come awfully close on several occasions. It’s depressing to think, but will we ever beat them again? After defeats like the one on Sunday, it is truly difficult to believe we ever will.
Over to you, Carlo.